By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
The Boston Bruins enter tonight’s game against the New York Islanders coming off of a big win over the Washington Capitals on Super Bowl Sunday where Tuukka Rask won his 253rd NHL game, surpassing Tiny Thompson for most wins by a goaltender in Boston Bruins franchise history. The Bruins are currently in the first wild-card position with 63 points (28-17-7), behind Montreal (64 points, 29-18-6) for the final Division playoff spot.
The New York Islanders lost their captain, John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the offseason, but they somehow are atop the Metropolitan Division with 66 points on the season, behind only Toronto and Tampa Bay. The Isles are 1-0-1 to start the month of February, losing 1-0 to Tampa Bay in the shootout and then beating the Kings 4-2 the next day. The Islanders will be looking to extend their point streak to nine games and they have the best record in the NHL since December 15th (16-3-2).
BOS: Tuukka Rask 15-8-4 2.35 GAA .922 SV% Last Game: 24 Saves in 1-0 Win vs WSH
NYI: Robin Lehner (Not Confirmed) 16-7-4 2.02 GAA .932 SV% Last Game: 34 Saves in 4-2 Win vs LAK
Tuukka Rask has been lights out for the Bruins and it has arguably made the team around him look better. Rask has recently passed Tiny Thompson as mentioned already for most wins by a goalie in the entire history of the Bruins franchise. As of late, Tuukka has earned a point for the Bruins in each of his last nine full starts, (not including the loss against the Rangers. Rask has not lost a regulation game since December 23rd against Carolina.
With the absence of Tavares, it has become Mathew Barzal’s team. The 2019 All-Star leads the Islanders in points with forty-six, including fifteen goals and thirty-one assists. The 16th Overall Pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Barzal has accumulated 37-94-131 numbers in 135 career NHL games. The 21-year-old has two goals in his last three games for New York.
David Pastrnak has not slowed down after that amazing All-Star Accuracy Showcase, in fact, he has built up even more momentum. The 22-year old winger has points in each of his last four games, scoring 3-4-7 totals in that span. Pastrnak made a beautiful pass to Torey Krug who found David Krejci for the lone goal in Sunday’s win over the Capitals, extending his season totals to 30-32-62 in only 52 games.
Whether it is Robin Lehner or Thomas Greiss, the Islanders have not had a lack of help in between the pipes. Lehner is 12-1-1 in his last fourteen starts, including a 34-save performance in the win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. Lehner leads the NHL in goals-against-average (2.02) and save percentage (.932 SV%). Greiss stopped all 41 shots in regulation and overtime before losing in a shootout to the Lightning. With both goalies having over fourteen wins in 2018-19, it marks only the second time that both two goalies have 14 or more wins on the Islanders throughout the past 15 years.
Jordan Eberle was brought onto the Islanders in 2017 following a trade with the Edmonton Oilers. While it seems that the Oilers lost out on that deal, (they got Ryan Strome, who they traded for Ryan Spooner, who was placed on waivers), Eberle has not found great success in New York. The 28-year-old has 11-12-23 numbers in forty-seven games and has not scored a single point in five consecutive games.
David Backes has continued to struggle with Boston this year as well. The 2003 draftee has zero points in his last four contests and only one point in his last seven. Backes has 5-8-13 numbers in 43 games this year and with the lack of depth scoring right now for the Bruins, he is not helping the cause by any stretch of the imagination.
Anthony Beauvillier is one of the better young players on the Islanders and was hyped up by quite a lot of hockey fans. However, this season he has not been meeting those expectations. Beauvillier has 12-7-19 totals in 50 games and is a -2 rating within that time. The 2015 1st Rounder has one point in the last five Islander games.
- F Patrice Bergeron is playing in his 1000th career NHL game – all for the Boston Bruins. Only four other Bruins have hit this milestone (Ray Bourque, John Bucyk, Don Sweeney, and Wayne Cashman).
- D Zdeno Chara is two goals away from 200 career NHL goals
- F Brad Marchand is one short-handed goal away (23) from tying Derek Sanderson (24) for second-most SHG in Bruins history
- F Brad Marchand is one game-winning goal away from taking sole possession of 7th most GWG in Bruins history
- F Patrice Bergeron is one game-winning goal away from taking sole possession of 3rd most GWG in Bruins history
New York Islanders:
- G Thomas Greiss is one win away (76) from tying Roland Melanson (77) for 6th most wins in Islanders history.
- G Thomas Greiss is one shutout away (8) from tying Evgeni Nabokov (9) for 6th most shutouts in Islanders history.
Bruins vs Islanders Outlook
Boston and the Islanders have already played once this season, with the Bruins taking a 2-1 shootout win back on November 29th. Boston has won the last five games against the Islanders with their last loss to one of two New York teams coming back on January 16th, 2017.
The Bruins are rolling after finally beating the Washington Capitals after many years without a victory over the defending Stanley Cup Champions. With that in mind, Boston has still struggled to produce much offence without the assistance of the first line and the depth scoring remains in a cold spell. If there is one spot where Boston needs improvement, it is scoring from the second, third, and fourth lines.
In addition to the lack of Boston scoring, the Islanders have been great defensively. They have allowed two goals or less in eight of their last nine outings. Prior to tonight’s game, the Islanders lead the National Hockey League in least amount of goals allowed, allowing only 125 goals, including shootout goals.
On the specialty teams, the Bruins have the third best power-play (27.3%) and 16th best penalty-kill (79.6%). On the other side of the ice, the Isles have the 26th best power-play (16%) and 20th best penalty-kill percentage (79.3%). Below are the lineup changes from Head Coach Bruce Cassidy.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm EST at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.